Running in Arkansas

In order to keep my marathon training on track while visiting family in Arkansas this weekend I ran 10 miles around Lake Fayetteville this morning. It’s a lovely spot, especially with the fall color starting to emerge this time of year, and there’s a 5.5 mile long paved trail that goes all the way around the lake. I ran the loop twice to get all of my needed mileage. It was quite cold (for this Californian, at least) when I started my run, about 42 deg, but it warmed up significantly during the two hours I was out there. I didn’t need my arm warmers for more than the first few miles. When I planned this trip I was a little worried about missing this weekend’s required run, so I’m really glad that I got it done while I was out of town. I’m flying home tomorrow so I have no excuses to miss any upcoming training runs. Darn!

More recent difficulties

Forgive me, but I’m going to whine a little bit more. As much as I loved my trip to Orlando and the Bahamas (which I will elaborate on in another post), there were a few snags. Most notably, I’m stuck at home right now with the flu, a really bad cold, or some combination of the two. It sucks big time. It all started on Thursday afternoon when my mom and I watched “The Force Awakens” on our Disney Cruise. Between then and dinnertime I developed a sore throat. I could have caught something from anyone on that ship (despite the borderline obsession with cleanliness on the cruise), but my money’s on the girl sitting next to me in the theater who was coughing up a lung. When the sore throat hadn’t gone away by the next morning when we docked in Port Canaveral I knew I was sick. Assuming I just had a cold I got some Zicam at the first available CVS and took it regularly for the next three days. I didn’t feel too terrible the next couple of days so I thought I was going to get off easy with this illness. Then on Sunday it took a turn. I went to work for a few hours to sort through all of my emails that I’d piled up while I was on vacation and get some boring administrative work done while no one else was around. I felt surprisingly good so I was contemplating going to spin class the next day to get some much needed exercise, but at 2 PM my sore throat got exponentially worse. I headed home earlier than I originally planned in order to rest. But as I was lying on the couch watching the Oscars I started feeling achy and shivering like crazy – all signs that I had a fever. And the thermometer confirmed it. Now my “cold” was looking more like the flu. So instead of going to work on Monday morning I went to urgent care and got a prescription for Tamiflu. The doctor wasn’t optimistic that it would help me very much (he said it was more effective last year than it has been so far this year), but he said I could try it anyway. So this was a long-winded way of saying that the most memorable souvenir from my trip was a nasty cold/flu that’s kept me home sick for two days. The only benefit is that I’ve been forced to rest my pulled muscle that I sustained nearly three weeks ago.

Speaking of which, that pulled muscle I first wrote about before I left for Orlando caused me a lot of problems while I was on vacation. When the Princess 10K rolled around that Saturday morning I hadn’t run at all in over a week in an attempt to let my body heal. I had no idea how I was going to fare during the race. I started out the 10K running slowly, and I felt pretty good at first. Unfortunately before I reached even 0.5 miles my leg was hurting so much I had to switch to walking instead. Limping is more like it. It took me nearly the rest of the 6.2 miles to feel somewhat normal again. Obviously I wasn’t quite healed yet. I was really happy to be wearing arm warmers with my short-sleeve shirt because walking didn’t keep me very comfortable on a chilly Florida morning! I crossed the finish line knowing that running the half marathon the next day was out of the question. Neither was skipping the race. I wasn’t going to risk further injuring myself by running, but I also wasn’t going to throw away the opportunity to complete the Glass Slipper Challenge (and earn my pink Coast to Coast medal after the Tinkerbell Half Marathon in May). So I walked it. The entire 13.1 miles. And it was so boring! It took me nearly 4 hours to complete the Princess Half Marathon, but I did it and collected all of my medals afterwards. The last race of my trip was the Castaway Cay 5K on Disney’s private island in the Bahamas. I knew I wasn’t ready to run yet so I walked the 3.1 miles with my mom on Castaway Cay. It wasn’t exactly the most exciting course, and it was really hot and humid that morning, but we finished the race (not dead last either!) and earned our medals. And then we bought Castaway Cay 5K shirts! Those are my two favorite souvenirs from the Disney Cruise. So over the course of my nine-day vacation I completed 22.4 miles of races, walking almost that entire distance. I’m proud that I did it, but I hope I never have to repeat it! Once I recover from this cold/flu/whatever I’ll give running a try again. I have to be ready for all of the spring races I’m already registered for!

Recent difficulties

Last Thursday I pulled a muscle in my leg while going for a routine weeknight run. I felt some weird pains after the first two miles, but by mile three I knew something was really wrong. After four miles I limped home, cursing under my breath. An injury was problematic for a couple of reasons – 1) The Mermaid 10K I was registered for that Saturday, and 2) My trip to Orlando for the Princess Half Marathon a week later. Being hurt at a time like this was just not acceptable. I almost never regret going for a run, but this time I wished I’d been lazy and stayed home on my couch watching television. I went to bed that night hoping that I’d be miraculously healed by the next morning. I wasn’t. That night I was supposed to drive down to San Diego and stay in a hotel before the Mermaid 10K. But since I was still hurting when I woke up I tried to cancel my reservation. It was too late to do that without getting charged for the room anyway so I had to find another solution. I emailed the race company and asked if there was any way I could switch from the 10K to the 5K so that I could walk it in a reasonable amount of time but still participate in the event. Luckily they responded that it wouldn’t be a problem. It’s a good thing too because I really wanted that shirt and medal! So I packed warmer clothes to wear for the race (walking does not keep you nearly as toasty as running) and made my way to San Diego on Friday night. Walking the 5K was a bit boring, but I’m glad I did it. My leg was stiff and sore, but not too bad. Running that day would have aggravated it, I’m sure, so at least I was smart enough to avoid that. My main goal was to be healthy for the Princess 10K and half marathon at Disney World this weekend!

And speaking of my trip to Orlando, it hasn’t exactly started off smoothly today. I woke up at 6 AM and checked my email. Nothing interesting there. Then I finished packing my bags, loaded up my car, and headed to McDonald’s at 7:30 AM for a quick breakfast on my way to the airport. When I was halfway through my Egg McMuffin I checked my email again and found out that the first leg of my flight had been cancelled. The new itinerary that the airline sent me had me arriving in Orlando not at 8 PM as originally planned, but at 5 AM tomorrow morning. Not cool. The good news was I was only a few blocks from home so I could drive back and investigate rearranging my travel plans. The bad news was that JetBlue had no better options than my effective redeye that arrived in Orlando before the crack of dawn tomorrow. I had bought a ticket on a flight leaving from Long Beach due to the convenience, but if I’d had the inclination to drive up to LAX I could have gotten to Orlando a bit sooner. But only about 4 hours sooner, which wasn’t much help. I reluctantly accepted my fate to depart this afternoon and get to Florida in the wee hours. Then I spent the rest of my morning watching TV shows from this week on my DVR. Gotta make space for all the shows that are going to get recorded while I’m gone! Right now I’m sitting at the Long Beach airport waiting to board my plane to Salt Lake City. I’m going to need to buy a neck pillow when I get there (I have about a four hour layover) because sleeping on the flight to Orlando is my best option to avoid a vampire schedule. Luckily the only thing I absolutely have to do tomorrow is go to the expo and pick up my race bib and shirts. I’ll get some sleep eventually!

Unnecessary purchases

When I went to DC the week before last I took four jackets with me. Not to wear all at once, of course, but for different situations (inside, outside, cold, not so cold, etc.). This Florida/California girl does not handle much more than a mild winter very well so I packed two fleeces, a sweatshirt, and a North Face jacket that I’d just bought. I haven’t needed a heavier coat in years so in order to be prepared for potentially cold temperatures in DC I went in search of one before I left on my trip. The first place I looked was REI, but I was underwhelmed with their selection. My next stop was the North Face store at South Coast Plaza which I figured would be chock full of good options. But strangely I wasn’t crazy about the offerings there either. The warmer jackets that I was interested in were really expensive and I wasn’t willing to spend $200 on something that I would need for a week, tops. In desperation I tried Sport Chalet. Surprisingly I found an acceptable option, a North Face jacket that was also on the sale rack. The only downside was the color. It was a drab light gray that I never would have selected given any other choices. But I bought the jacket anyway because time I didn’t think I’d have time to shop for another one before my trip. When I got home that day I did a quick search and found out that this particular item comes in a seemingly endless array of colors, all of which were more appealing than the light gray. I immediately ordered one in a lovely dark purple from REI online with assurances that it would arrive in time for me to take it to DC. Unfortunately my plan didn’t exactly work out. The jacket from REI didn’t get delivered as promised so the stupid gray jacket made the trip to the East Coast with me. And after all that effort I ended up not needing it at all! In fact, it was too warm in DC that week for just about all of the outerwear I brought with me. So this new jacket that I went through so much trouble to obtain went completely unworn. The good news is that I returned it to Sport Chalet this weekend without any trouble. Now I have to decide whether I want to keep the purple version. I’m not sure there’s any reason to. It’s not exactly useful in Los Angeles, and I don’t anticipate visiting any cold climates soon. What a ridiculously drawn out scenario for a jacket that I might never need!

Sunday in DC

The search for the perfect DC hotel continues. When I booked this trip a few weeks ago I picked a place to stay based on its access to covered parking and a fitness center with ample treadmills. These two attributes are seemingly unrelated, but both are conducive to avoiding the pitfalls of winter weather. Underground parking means no ice or snow accumulation on my car overnight, and a fitness center with plenty of treadmills will help me maintain my running regimen without relying on the sidewalks and trails being satisfactorily cleared. Sounds perfect, right? However, when I checked in today I discovered that this hotel does not have free internet access in the guest rooms. Seriously? I’ve tried quite a few different hotels in this area over the last nine years and I have yet to find one that has the ideal combination of comfortable rooms, a well appropriated fitness center, decent parking, and a few other desirable amenities. It’s like looking for the Holy Grail of accommodations! The good news is that my room at my current hotel is a lovely suite and the fitness center looks great (I haven’t tried it yet), but the lack of convenient internet access is really annoying. Hopefully I can just go downstairs to the lobby when I’m ready to publish this post, because otherwise I’ll have to find a Starbucks that’s still open this late on a Sunday. I might be eating exclusively at restaurants that have free wifi for the next five days. I know this is pretty much the ultimate first world problem, but I have a lot of work that I want to do online during my downtime while I’m out of town. Like book a hotel room in San Diego for a race next month. But that’s a story for another post. And hopefully that place has free wifi!

Traveling to DC

I made a mistake this morning. Considering all of the difficulty on the East Coast due to the blizzard last weekend I should have checked my flight status before I left for the airport, but I didn’t. As soon as I parked my car and caught the shuttle to the airport I found an email in my inbox informing me that my flight to DC was delayed – by two and a half hours! I thought I was running late while getting ready to go to the airport this morning, and I was actually a little worried about not being able to grab anything for breakfast before getting on the plane. Little did I know I could have stopped for a leisurely morning meal on the way! As it was, I got to sit down and have a nice egg sandwich after going through security, and then I had enough time leftover to wander around the United terminals for over an hour. It was boring, but luckily I had no reason to get to DC by a certain time today. Before takeoff the pilot explained the delay – the plane that was originally assigned to our flight was coming from Hawaii this morning, but it had to divert for some reason and obviously didn’t make it to Los Angeles on schedule. Weird. Funny enough, after everything the region had to deal with this week, the delay had nothing to do with the weather!

I didn’t get as much sleep as I should have last night because I had too many things to check off my to do list before going on my trip. I left work early yesterday so I’d have more time to prepare. My first order of business when I got home was baking the three batches of cookies that I promised my East and West Coast co-workers. I didn’t want to make them earlier in the week because I was afraid they’d dry out and get stale before anyone got to eat them. The cookies I ended up making were slightly different from what I described in my previous post. The “classic” chocolate chip cookies ended up including browned butter, bacon fat, and molasses. And they were amazing! (I sampled quite a few while slicing up the cookies. This is why I limit my baking these days!) I will share that recipe later this week. Of the other two batches of chocolate chip cookies, one had a full pound of cooked and crumbled bacon mixed into the batter, and the second had some reconstituted dried cherries (but no liquor as I originally planned). After the cookies were done I seriously considered skipping my planned 5-mile run because I still needed to finish packing my suitcase and attempt to get to bed at a decent hour. I figured I could hit the treadmill after arriving in DC instead. But then I remembered how much I hate running on the treadmill so I threw on my shoes and went for a run on the sidewalks of Seal Beach instead. There’s a possibility that it will be warm enough for me to run outside while I’m in DC, but more than likely I’ll be stuck on the treadmill in the hotel fitness center instead. It’s not ideal, but there’s no way I’m going to miss any of my training runs this week. The Surf City Half Marathon is next Sunday and I need to be ready! But I digress. I stayed up too late last night getting ready for my trip, but it was worth it. I will sleep well tonight!

#tbt – My old passport

Today I started the process of changing my name on my passport so that I will be prepared for my cruise to the Bahamas in February. (I probably should have sent it in before now, but as usual hindsight is 20/20.) So I pulled my old passport out of a box this evening and flipped through it. I’ve had three passports in my life (check out some of the stamps from my old passports here), and I got the latest one back in 2008 before I went to New Zealand with my ex-husband for Christmas. I’d renewed my passport for our honeymoon in 2007 when my last name was still Gleason, but a year later I needed a new one with my married name on it. It’s a shame this passport was only used to leave the country once. (I’ve used it for several trips within the United States when I accidentally booked plane tickets under my married name…after I reverted back to my maiden name last year. Oops.) Not that New Zealand is anything other than a sensational destination, but I’d like to see more of the world! The good news is that the new passport that I’m applying for now will be used to visit the Bahamas in just over two months. I can’t wait!

Goodbye Schlotzsky’s

I am at Disney World for the Wine & Dine Half Marathon on Saturday, so I might have difficulty updating my webpage everyday while I’m on vacation. But I’m going to do my best for the sake of NaBloPoMo! I started this post on my flight from Austin to Orlando yesterday, but I didn’t finish it before we landed. You’ll see that I was unhappy with the meal I got in the Austin airport!

Schlotzsky’s Deli used to be my favorite place to eat when I was in college. I’d go there every Friday night for a turkey sandwich or a pepperoni pizza and a Cherry Coke to celebrate the impending weekend. It was delicious. So when I went Los Angeles for my first Boeing internship I was happy to discover a Schlotzsky’s not to far from work in Huntington Beach. I didn’t go there nearly as often as when I lived in Gainesville (there were other restaurants to sample instead), but I still liked being able to get a familiar meal from time to time. But then one day I drove over there, anticipating a tasty sandwich for lunch, only to discover that Schlotzsky’s was out of business. How upsetting! So when I arrived at the Austin airport last January on my way to Orlando for the Disney World 10K and half marathon I was so excited to see that there was a Schlotzsky’s in the airport! I was really looking forward to having one of their sandwiches for old time’s sake. The menu was understandably small (no pizzas!) and I can’t remember what I ordered, but it was awful. It was incredibly bland! Not at all what I remember from my college days. What a disappointment. Since then I’ve tried the Austin airport Schlotzsky’s two more times (including yesterday when I was on my way to Orlando) and the quality of the fare hasn’t improved at all. My sandwiches were dry and had very little flavor. How does that even happen? Three strikes and you’re out, Schlotzsky’s. On my way back to Los Angeles next week I will patronize another airport food spot during my stopover. We had a good run, but I’m afraid our love affair is over. Goodbye, Schlotzsky’s!

Retiring my backpack

I’m not sure why I didn’t keep my backpack from college. It was a red Jansport with lots of pockets and a mesh water bottle holder on one side. (If you’ve ever had to walk a college campus in Florida when it’s hot you know how important it is to always have a bottle of water with you.) It was a great backpack, but for some reason it didn’t make the transition to grad school with me. When I went to UCLA I bought a cheap Eastpak backpack from Target (I think.) It was the most utilitarian choice (i.e., extremely boring), but it served its purpose. Since then it’s the only backpack I’ve owned, although it’s been mostly sitting neglected in the back of my closet for the last ten years. But when I went to Hawaii in June and had a little trouble with luggage capacity (you have to be fully prepared when you go on a tropical vacation) I discovered that the ol’ Eastpak was more versatile than I expected. It’s just the right size to hold my laptop, a pair of sneakers, snacks, and all of the other essential carry on items. For years I’d been using a shoulder bag as a carry on when I traveled, but I loved how a backpack freed up my hands for the inevitable (and potentially unnecessary) magazine and soda purchases before hopping a flight. I also used my Eastpak to great effect in Alaska last month. Denali National Park doesn’t have any services past the visitor’s center so we were required to carry all of our food, water, rain gear, etc. on the 8-12 hour bus tours into the park. To my delight my old backpack was much more comfortable than I remember from my grad school days and worked remarkably well carrying a day’s worth of supplies. But after the recent discovery of holes in the bottom of the Eastpak I realized that it was time to retire and replace my trusty thirteen year old backpack. Luckily “back to school” made this really easy. Not only were there bags for sale everywhere I turned, but the prices kept dropping as the summer was drawing to a close. (And by “summer” I just mean the period of time when kids are out of school. The hottest temperatures of the year settled in here a while back and they’re going to stick around for another month or two, much to my chagrin. It was 97 deg in Seal Beach today and I don’t have air conditioning. Aargh.) After doing some research I settled on a North Face backpack from eBags.com with a laptop compartment and water bottle holders. I figure it’ll work well for all sorts of travel situations, from an airplane carry on (like when I go to Orlando for the Wine & Dine Half Marathon at Disney World in November) to hiking (like when I hopefully go back to Alaska next summer). So while I have a lot of respect for the old Eastpak that I am replacing, I look forward to many years of exciting travel with my new North Face backpack!